I am fond of writing from time to time, about how people with important jobs to do who spend too much time fretting about mere architecture are liable to take their eyes off the ball. What are we trying to do? This question can get lost when you decide to build, and then move into, a brand spanking new headquarters building.
So I enjoyed reading about yet another such contrast in the book by John Lewis Gaddis On Grand Strategy (pp. 125-6).
The contrast Gaddis mentions is between how much architectural complication Philip II of Spain made for himself and how, in contrast, his enemy Elizabeth I of England meanwhile preferred to keep things architecturally simple.
On the one hand:
Philip personally designed the Escorial, the grandest monastery any monarch would ever inhabit. He then filled it with relics and sequestered himself among them, unable to see beyond the responsibilities that engulfed him, and, as a consequence, the paperwork that swamped him
Elizabeth, on the other hand …:
… didn’t even design her own palace; she simply took over, or borrowed the ones she fancied.
Personally, I wouldn’t find it at all simple to be even borrowing a palace, let alone building one. But you get the point. A little less focus on architecture and a little more attention to Grand Strategy on Philip’s part, and the entire history of the world, no less, might from then on have been very different.